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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

arrested 38 people in connection with a sweep targeting the 1200 Bloc Crips street gang,

08:30 |

Riverside police say they've now arrested 38 people in connection with a sweep targeting the 1200 Bloc Crips street gang, a move they hope will help quiet the city's Eastside after 20 years of violence.

The sweep so far seems to be having its intended effect, said Lt. Guy Toussaint, a spokesman for Riverside police. There have been no police responses to calls of activity by 1200 Bloc Crips gang members in the 10 days since the operation.

In the year before the sweep, Toussaint said police responded to at least a dozen calls that led to several arrests. Members of the gang allegedly committed four assaults with a deadly weapon, at least one drive-by shooting and two attempted murders, along with several lesser crimes, Toussaint said.

"It sent a message to the criminal elements on the street," Toussaint said. "It's too early to tell if it's made a dramatic difference but it has made a difference."

The question is how long?

The crackdown came about 18 months after a similar sweep against East Side Riva, a predominantly Latino gang that has warred with the mostly African-American 1200 Bloc Crips in an area roughly from the 91 freeway east to Chicago Avenue, between Martin Luther King to University avenues since the early 1990s.

Toussaint conceded that a 2007 court injunction targeting East Side Riva members and the January 2010 sweep against the gang -- 650 officers from 34 local and federal agencies made 50 arrests in that operation -- may have opened opportunity for the 1200 Bloc Crips to increase their activities, which included drug dealing, gun sales and pimping.

But police said they hope the latest crackdown, along with injunctions and enhanced patrols, will put a long-term stop to gang activity.

Racial violence between Eastside African-American and Latino gangs started in the 1990s, culminating in a string of shootings between gangs during the summer and fall of 2002.

Most of the victims were not gang members.

Pastor Ruben Guitron of Peacemaker Ministries on the Eastside doubts the calm will last without fundamental changes within the community.

"I believe what the police have done is good," he said Sunday afternoon following his sermon. "But it's all for naught, for the simple reason that as soon as you get rid of one (gang) there's always someone ready to replace them."

Guitron said until those in the community take more responsibility and push for education and jobs, police action alone will not be enough to keep gangs out.

"They have to get to the root of the problem," Guitron said. "And root of the problem is that these kids are ours. We have three, four, five generations of uneducated parents, uneducated families. We are the root of the problem."

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